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Today in Black History, 11/18/2013

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• November 18, 1900 Howard Thurman, author, theologian, educator and civil rights leader, was born in Daytona Beach, Florida. Thurman earned his Bachelor of Arts degree from Morehouse College in 1923 and his Bachelor of Divinity degree from Colgate Rochester Theological Seminary in 1926. In 1929, he earned his Ph.D. from Haverford College. Thurman was selected as dean of Rankin Chapel at Howard University in 1932 and served until 1944 when he left to help establish the Church for the Fellowship of All Peoples, the first racially integrated, intercultural church in the United States. In 1953, he became the first Black dean of Marsh Chapel at Boston University where he served until 1965. A prolific author, Thurman wrote 20 books, including “Jesus and the Disinherited” (1949) which greatly influenced Martin Luther King, Jr. In 1953, Life Magazine rated Thurman among the 12 most important religious leaders in the United States and Ebony Magazine called him one of the 50 most important figures in African American history. Thurman died April 10, 1981. That same year, “With Head and Heart: The Autobiography of Howard Thurman” was published.

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Today in Black History, 11/17/2013

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• November 17, 1834 Nancy Green, storyteller, cook and one of the first African Americans hired to promote a corporate trademark, was born enslaved in Montgomery County, Kentucky. In 1890, Green was hired by the R. T. Davis Milling Company to represent Aunt Jemima for a ready-mixed, self-rising flour. In 1893, Green was introduced as Aunt Jemima at the World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago, Illinois where it was her job to operate a pancake cooking display. Her personality and cooking ability made the display so successful that the company received over 50,000 orders and she received a medal and certificate from the Expo officials. After the Expo, Green was given a lifetime contract to adopt the Aunt Jemima moniker and promote the pancake mix. She traveled on promotional tours all over the country and gained the financial freedom to become an activist and engage in antipoverty programs. Green died September 23, 1923. In 1998, “Slave in a Box: The Strange Career of Aunt Jemima” was published.

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Today in Black History, 11/16/2013

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• November 16, 1873 William Christopher “W. C.” Handy, hall of fame blues composer and musician, was born in Florence, Alabama. In 1892, Handy received a teaching degree from Huntsville Teachers Agricultural and Mechanical College. At age 23, he became band master of Mahara’s Colored Minstrels and over the next three years toured throughout the United States and Cuba. From 1900 to 1902, he taught music at Alabama Agricultural and Mechanical College for Negroes (now Alabama A&M University). In 1903, he returned to leading bands and touring with the Knights of Pythias which he led for the next six years. The 1912 publication of his “Memphis Blues” sheet music was credited as the inspiration for the foxtrot dance step and many consider it the first blues song. By 1917, Handy had also published “Beale Street Blues” and “St Louis Blues.” Bessie Smith’s recording of “St Louis Blues” with Louis Armstrong is considered one of the finest recordings of the 1920s. In 1926, Handy authored “Blues: An Anthology – Complete Words and Music of 53 Great Songs” which was the first work to record, analyze, and describe the blues as an integral part of the history of the United States. He wrote four other books, including his autobiography “Father of the Blues: An Autobiography.” Handy died March 28, 1958. That same year, a movie about his life titled “St Louis Blues” was released. The United States Postal Service issued a commemorative postage stamp in his honor in 1969, he was posthumously inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1983, and awarded the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 1993. Streets in New York, Tennessee, and Alabama are named in his honor and the W. C. Handy Music Festival is held annually in Muscle Shoals, Alabama.

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Liberation Film Series presents “Negroes With Guns: Rob Williams and Black Power;” Free film screening & discussion focus on Black self-defense

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The documentary film Negroes With Guns: Rob Williams and Black Power tells the dramatic story of Robert F. Williams (1925 - 1996), an often-forgotten civil rights leader who urged African Americans to arm themselves against violence and oppression. In doing so, Williams not only challenged the Klan-dominated establishment of his hometown of Monroe, North Carolina, he alienated the mainstream Civil Rights Movement, which advocated peaceful resistance. A free film screening and accompanying discussion on Black self-defense take place Saturday, November 23, 2013, at 2 pm at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History, located at 315 East Warren Avenue in Detroit.

The story told in the documentary, Negroes With Guns: Rob Williams and Black Power, is a remarkable, yet widely unknown, portrayal of Robert Williams, one of America’s most important leaders in the 20th century and of the black liberation movement. Williams was president of the Monroe, North Carolina NAACP, president of Republic of New Africa and Chairman of Revolutionary Action Movement, and lived in forced exile in Cuba, China and Tanzania. Negroes With Guns focuses on Williams’ militant fight for African American human rights, armed self-defense and self-determination against the KKK, police, the FBI, and civil rights pacifists.

Following the conversation will be a discussion with Williams’ son, Reverend John C. Williams, Esq.; Dr. Gloria House (Aneb Kgositsile), Director of African-American Studies at the University of Michigan-Dearborn, who wrote and will read from the Forward to the book Negroes With Guns; and General Baker, Jr., a founding member of the League of Revolutionary Black Workers who visited Cuba in 1964 specifically to meet Robert F. Williams and later distributed Williams’ banned The Crusader Newsletter in the United States. Robert William’s wife, Mabel Ola Williams, and brother, John H. Williams, will be special guests, and Detroit Council Member JoAnn Watson will present an official City proclamation.

After reflecting on the life and legacy of Robert F. Williams, Dr. Aneb Kgositsile (Gloria House) stated the following, "A man of immense personal courage and vision, Robert Williams's fight and example compel us to be vigilant now, and to resist racist violence as it pervades and fractures every aspect of our lives, steadily eroding our human rights."

General Baker, Jr. added, “Robert F. Williams accomplished more in one lifetime than the average person could accomplish in three! U.S. - China relations during the Kissinger-Nixon period occurred because of Robert F. Williams’ work as a scholar-researcher and consultant at the Center of Chinese Studies at University of Michigan (Ann Arbor).”

The Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History’s Liberation Film Series: 2013 - 2014 Season, entitled Injustice& Resistance, brings into focus the escalating injustice experienced by people of African descent in America today. The purpose is to leverage the collective knowledge of scholars, students, community activists and the grassroots community in a meaningful conversation that focuses on the examination of important films of our history.

The Liberation Film Series is supported by the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History and the Black Studies Departments of Michigan State University, University of Michigan - Dearborn, University of Michigan - Ann Arbor, Wayne State University, Eastern Michigan University, Wayne County Community College District, Oakland University, University of Massachusetts – Amherst, and Dr. Errol Henderson (University of Pennsylvania), Media Education Foundation, National Council of Black Studies, The Walter P. Reuther Library at Wayne State University, Wayne State University Press, Black White Look Optical, ASALH-Detroit, community activists, and individual contributors. Charles Ezra Ferrell, a consultant to The Wright Museum, is the LFS Founder and Program Director.

The 2013 - 2014 season of the Liberation Film Series runs through June 2014, and is free and open to the public. For more information, including the complete series schedule and respective speaker profiles, discussion topics, trailers, reading lists, supplemental educational links, and insightful statements of endorsement, please visit www.TheWright.org/liberation.

About Reverend John C. Williams, Esq.
At the tender age of eight, John was actively involved in the struggle for civil and human rights led by his parents in their home town of Monroe, NC. In the summer of 1961, the Williams family was forced to leave their hometown and country of birth under the threat of violence and death. As a result of this government-sanctioned racism, the Williams family went into political exile for eight years during which time they continued the struggle by bringing into focus on the international level the plight of African Americans in the United States.

At the age of nineteen, John C. Williams returned to the U.S. with his parents and older brother. Upon returning to the States, John received a B.A. Degree in Chinese Studies at Michigan State University and graduated with a Juris Doctorate degree from Indiana University, School of Law at Indianapolis.

John C. Williams has been a resident of Detroit for thirty years, twenty-nine of which have been committed to ministering the Gospel of Jesus Christ. During this period John has also worked with Detroit and other regional Public Schools, Life Directions, Inc., Joy of Jesus Ministries, Inc., People’s Community Services, Inc., Focus Hope, Inc. and a host of other youth and human development entities striving to make our world a better place for all.  Since 2003 John has served as Pastor of Cass Park Baptist Church located in the Cass Corridor of Detroit.

About Dr. Aneb Kgositsile (Gloria House)
Dr. Aneb Kgositsile (Gloria House), Ph.D is a Professor of Humanities and African American Studies at the University of Michigan-Dearborn, and Director of the African and African American Studies Program. Dr. House is also Associate Professor Emeritus in the Interdisciplinary Studies Department of Wayne State University, where she was a member of the faculty for twenty-seven years. During her career at Wayne State University, Dr. House won distinction as an excellent teacher, a pioneer in comparative cultural studies, and a leader for more equitable treatment of minority students, faculty and staff.

Dr. House earned her bachelor's degree in French and Political Science and her master's degree in Comparative Literature at the University of California at Berkeley. Her doctorate in American Culture was completed at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, where she was a CEW Scholar and recipient of a Rackham Fellowship.

About General Baker, Jr.
General Gordon Baker, Jr. is a national and internationally-known labor leader who has been called the most important 21st century American revolutionary. He was a leader of the Detroit wildcat strikes in the 1960s, a founder of the legendary League of Revolutionary Black Workers, Dodge Revolutionary Union Movement (DRUM), and the first American to refuse induction to fight in Vietnam. His case was a landmark in draft resistance, symbolizing the beginning of the anti-war movement. He travelled to Cuba and met Che Guevara and religiously listened to Robert F. Williams' radio show, "Radio Free Dixie," broadcasted from Cuba.

In the book, Detroit: I Do Mind Dying - about the worker revolts of that era - General Baker is cited as the "soul of the Dodge Revolutionary Union Movement (DRUM)." DRUM was the driving force behind the wildcat strikes. The ideas emanating from that period inspired Black autoworkers throughout America.

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Today in Black History, 11/15/2013

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• November 15, 1825 Sarah Jane Woodson Early, educator, activist, and the first African American female college instructor, was born in Chillicothe, Ohio. Early graduated from Oberlin College in 1856 making her one of the first African American female college graduates. She was hired by Wilberforce University in 1858 to teach English and Latin and to serve as lady principal and matron. In 1868, Early began teaching at a school for Black girls in North Carolina. Early taught school for nearly four decades, believing that education was critical for the advancement of her race. She also served as principal of large schools in four cities. In 1888, she was elected national superintendent of the Colored Division of the Women’s Christian Temperance Union and during her tenure gave more than one hundred speeches to groups in a five state region. At the 1893 World’s Fair in Chicago, Illinois, she was named “Representative Woman of the Year.” Early published “The Life and Labors of Rev. J. W. Early, One of the Pioneers of African Methodism in the West and South,” a biography of her husband, in 1894. Early died August 15, 1907.

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Today in Black History, 11/14/2013

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• November 14, 1856 John Edward Bush, co-founder of the Mosaic Templars of America (MTA), was born enslaved in Moscow, Tennessee. Bush and his family were freed after the Civil War and moved to Little Rock, Arkansas. Bush graduated with honors from Capitol Hill City School in 1876 and served as its principal for two years immediately following graduation. In 1883, he co-founded MTA, an African American fraternal organization which by 1930 had grown to international scope, spanning 26 states and 6 foreign countries. It was one of the largest and most successful Black owned business enterprises in the world and Bush was acknowledged as one of the wealthiest Black men in Arkansas. In 1898, President William McKinley appointed Bush the receiver of the United States Land Office in Little Rock and he was subsequently reappointed four additional terms by Presidents Theodore Roosevelt and William Howard Taft. Bush died December 11, 1916.

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Today in Black History, 11/13/2013

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• November 13, 1894 Albert C. Richardson of South Frankfort, Michigan received patent number 529,311 for the casket lowering device. Prior to his invention, caskets were simply buried in shallow graves or lowered with ropes into deeper graves. This required several people to work in unison to ensure that the casket was lowered evenly. Failure to do so would cause the casket to slip out the ropes and be damaged from hitting the ground. Richardson’s invention consisted of a series of pulleys and ropes which ensured uniformity in the lowering process. The same concept is used today. Richardson created several other devices. He received patent numbers 255,022 March 14, 1882 for a hame fastner, 446,470 February 17, 1891 for a butter churn, 620,362 February 28, 1899 for an insect destroyer, and 638,811 December 12, 1899 for an improvement in the design of the bottle. Not much else is known of Richardson’s life.

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Today in Black History, 11/12/2013

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• November 12, 1875 Egbert Austin “Bert” Williams, hall of fame comedian and the pre-eminent Black entertainer of his era, was born in Nassau, Bahamas. Williams moved to San Francisco, California to study civil engineering but instead joined a minstrel show. In 1893, he formed the team of Williams and Walker with his partner George Walker and they performed song and dance numbers, comic dialogues, and skits. In 1896, they headlined the Koster and Bial’s vaudeville house for 36 weeks and popularized the cakewalk dance. Williams and Walker appeared in a succession of hit shows, including “Sons of Ham” (1900), “In Dahomey” (1902), which on February 18, 1903 became the first Black musical to open on Broadway, and “Abyssinia” (1906). Williams composed and recorded many songs, including “Nobody” which sold between 100,000 and 150,000 copies, a phenomenal total for the era. In 1909, Walker was forced to leave their partnership due to ill health and in 1910 Williams joined the Ziegfeld Follies as the featured performer amid an otherwise all White show. By 1920, when 10,000 sales was considered a successful release, Williams had four songs that shipped between 180,000 and 250,000 copies and was one of the three most highly paid recording artists in the world. Williams died March 4, 1922. On November 18, 1944, the U. S. Liberty ship SS Bert Williams was launched in his honor and in 1996 he was posthumously inducted into the International Clown Hall of Fame. The many books about Williams include “Nobody: The Story of Bert Williams” (1970), “The Last Darky: Bert Williams, Black-on-Black Minstrelsy, and the African Diaspora” (2005), and “Introducing Bert Williams: Burnt Cork, Broadway, and the Story of America’s First Black Star” (2008). Williams’ name is enshrined in the Ring of Genealogy at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History in Detroit, Michigan.

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Today in Black History, 11/11/2013

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• November 11, 1831 Nathaniel “Nat” Turner, rebellion leader, was executed by hanging in Jerusalem, Virginia after initiating a rebellion of enslaved and free Black people. Turner was born enslaved October 2, 1800 in Southampton County, Virginia. He learned to read and write at a young age and was deeply religious. By early 1828, he was convinced that he “was ordained for some great purpose in the hands of the Almighty” and that God had given him the task of “slaying my enemies with their own weapons”. On August 13, 1831, there was a solar eclipse and Turner took that as his signal. On August 21, he began the rebellion with a few trusted enslaved Black men that grew into more than 50 enslaved and free Black men. The rebels traveled from house to house, freeing enslaved people and killing their White owners. The rebellion was suppressed within 48 hours with approximately 55 White men, women, and children killed. Turner was captured October 30 and was convicted and sentenced to death November 5. The state executed 56 other Black men suspected of being involved in the uprising and another 200 Black people, most of whom had nothing to do with the uprising, were beaten, tortured, and murdered by angry White mobs. Also, the Virginia General Assembly passed new laws making it unlawful to teach enslaved or free Black and Mulatto people to read or write and restricting Black people from holding religious meetings without the presence of a licensed White minister. Numerous books have been written about the rebellion, including “Nat Turner’s Slave Rebellion” (1966), “The Confessions of Nat Turner” (1993), and “The Rebellious Slave: Nat Turner in American Memory” (2004). Turner’s name is enshrined in the Ring of Genealogy at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History in Detroit, Michigan.

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President’s Message, November 2013

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Juanita Moore, President & CEO of the Charles H. Wright Museum of African Americ
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I would like to dedicate this month’s letter to a very special friend to the museum, Ms. Shirley Northcross, and a very special group, the Women’s Committee. Shirley is stepping down from her position as its Chair this month.

“Bold ideas require a champion, regardless of how good the idea.”

These words were received by Shirley in a June 18, 2002 letter from Deborah Dolsey Diggs, founder of the Women’s Committee. In 2002, Deborah was putting together a super group of participants to set goals and expectations to support the museum financially. Shirley can count herself as close to the heart of that mission. She was approached by Dr. Charles H. Wright when in the early stages of her retirement. Both attended service at Plymouth United Church of Christ, and Dr. Wright’s recommendation led to Northcross’ involvement on the newly-formed Women’s Committee.

Over time, Shirley would work diligently with its other members, eventually following Phyllis Harden and Sheila Vanfield to become its third chairperson. Through the implementation of Midtown’s Noel Night at the museum, African World Festivals, Mothers Day celebrations, membership drives, fundraisers, and many other efforts, Shirley and the committee members have been tireless in their commitment to The Wright Museum.

“It is important work that the Women’s Committee does,” Shirley states. “We are a fully-functioning partner, keeping the museum visible in the hearts and minds of the community. We serve as ambassadors to schools and neighborhoods. With the foundation that we have built over the years, the future is looking better than ever. Huge contributions are in the making.”

And indeed they are: the committee donated $26,000 to the museum this past summer. And it’s just one in a long stream of efforts over the years. The Women’s Committee, alongside the Friends Committee and individual donors, made the bust of Dr. Charles H. Wright, which welcomes visitors heading to our core exhibit, a proud reality.

The Women’s Committee is an open, welcoming group with members from many generations and walks of life, brought together to champion the bold idea that everyone in our community can give back and support the worthy work of the museum. We invite you to consider making this committee the place where you give of your time and talent. The museum would welcome your support and help, and so would the members of the Women’s Committee. For more information, please email This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

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Today in Black History, 11/10/2013

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• November 10, 1828 Lott Cary, the first American Baptist missionary to Africa, died. Cary was born enslaved in 1780 in Charles City County, Virginia. As a young man, he learned to read from the bible and later attended a school for enslaved youth. Because of his education, diligence, and valuable work, Cary was rewarded by his master with small tips from the money he earned. In 1813, Cary was able to purchase his freedom and that of his two children for $850. That same year, he became an official Baptist minister. In 1821, Cary led a missionary team to Liberia where they engaged in evangelism, education, and health care. He also established the first Baptist church in Liberia, the Providence Baptist Church in Monrovia which celebrated its 175th anniversary in 2001, and several schools. In August, 1828, Cary became acting governor of Liberia. Cary street and the Carytown shopping district in Richmond, Virginia are named in his honor and the Lott Cary House is designated a state historical landmark. The Lott Cary Foreign Mission Convention helps churches extend their Christian witness to the end of the earth.

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Today in Black History, 11/9/2013

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• November 9, 1731 Benjamin Banneker, astronomer, surveyor and almanac author, was born in Ellicott’s Mills, Maryland. When Banneker was old enough to help on his parent’s farm, his formal education ended. In 1753, he carved a wooden clock that struck hourly, using a pocket watch as a model, and continued to work until his death. He began to study astronomy using borrowed books and equipment in 1788. In 1791, Banneker was hired to assist in the survey of what is now the District of Columbia, however due to illness he only worked on the project for three months. Banneker made astronomical calculations that predicted solar and lunar eclipses that he included in a six year series of almanacs from 1792 to 1797. The almanacs included the times for the rising and setting of the sun and moon and were commercially successful. Banneker expressed his views on slavery and racial equality, including a plea for justice for African Americans, in a 1791 letter to United States Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson. Banneker died October 9, 1806. His biography, “The Life of Benjamin Banneker: The First African-American Man of Science,” was published in 1972. In 1977, a commemorative obelisk was erected near his grave site by the Maryland Bicentennial Commission and the State Commission on Afro-American History and Culture. In 1980, the United States Postal Service issued a commemorative postage stamp in his honor and in 1998 the Benjamin Banneker Historical Park located on the site of his former farm was dedicated. Banneker’s name is enshrined in the Ring of Genealogy at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History in Detroit, Michigan.

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The Wright Museum Hosts Sean Blackman’s In Transit Concert; Award-winning world music performer highlights popular art exhibit with Afro Brazilian performance and lecture

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Award-winning world music performer and Detroit native Sean Blackman will take concert goers on a musical journey from West Africa to the shores of Brazil and beyond on November 16, 2013, at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History.

Performing a dynamic mix of Brazilian classics and original compositions including traditional African songs, ballads, bossa nova, high-life Afro-sambas, dancing, and more, the In Transit ensemble will feature Pathe Jassi (Senegal); Mady Kouyate (Sengal); Detroit's own Wendell Harrison; Nanny Assis, renowned Afro Brazilian percussionist and vocalist from Bahia, Brazil; and Ibrahima "Thiokho" Diagne, master drummer from Senegal and percussionist for Grammy award-winning artist Angelique Kidjo. Attendees receive complimentary admission to the Bandits & Heroes, Poets & Saints: Popular Art of the Northeast of Brazil exhibit open both before and after the performance. Tickets are $30 each or $20 each for museum members, and can be purchased at the museum, online at TheWright.org, or by phone at (800) 838-3006. Doors will open at 6 pm the evening of the performance, with the concert starting promptly at 7 pm.

Earlier in the day at 1 pm, the museum will host a lecture as a part of this Afro Brazilian celebration, with Sean Blackman demonstrating through different instruments and rhythms the migration of music around the globe. This family-friendly event includes a visual presentation mirroring the geographic journey, and Q&A period. The lecture is free with museum admission, which is $8 for adults (ages 13-61), and $5 for seniors (62+) and youth (3-12). Admission is free for museum members and children under 3.

About Bandits & Heroes, Poets & Saints: Popular Art of the Northeast of Brazil
Organized by Con/Vida – Popular Arts of the Americas, in partnership with The Wright Museum, Bandits & Heroes, Poets & Saints includes nearly 200 works of art by more than 50 artists. The first major U.S. traveling exhibit on art from this region of Brazil, it tells the story of how African, European, and indigenous cultural traditions have interacted over a period of more than 500 years in the largest country in South America. The exhibit remains on display until January 5, 2014, after which it will travel to the DuSable Museum, Chicago, Illinois; the Robert W. Woodruff Library at the Atlanta University Center, Atlanta, Georgia; and the International Civil Rights Center and Museum, Greensboro, North Carolina. Funding has been provided by the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Michigan Humanities Council, with additional support from Wayne State University, TechTown, and the Adrian Dominican Sisters.

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Today in Black History, 11/8/2013

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• November 8, 1865 Decatur Dorsey received the Congressional Medal of Honor, America’s highest military decoration. Dorsey was born enslaved in 1836 in Howard County, Maryland. During the Civil War, he joined Company B of the 39th United States Colored Infantry Regiment in 1864 and was promoted to corporal less than two months after joining. On July 30, 1864, he took part in the Battle of the Crater in Petersburg, Virginia. During the battle, White Union soldiers were trapped in a crater by Confederate forces. Dorsey’s division was ordered in to reinforce the attack and rescue the trapped soldiers. His citation reads, “Planted the colors on the Confederate works in advance of his regiment, and when the regiment was driven back to the Union works he carried the colors there and bravely rallied the men”. During a second assault, the men of the 39th breached the Confederate works and engaged in hand to hand combat, capturing two hundred prisoners before withdrawing. Dorsey was subsequently promoted to first sergeant. After the war, Dorsey married and lived in Hoboken, New Jersey where he died July 10, 1891. A Decatur Dorsey Maryland Civil War Marker is located in Ellicott City, Maryland.

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Underground Railroad Expert to Speak on the Legacy of Black Resistance; Free Event at The Wright Museum Celebrates Launch of New History Website

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Humanities scholar Mr. Hari Jones, Curator/Assistant Director of the National African American Civil War Museum of Washington D.C., will speak on the Underground Railroad and its legacy of Black resistance at a free event to mark the launch of a new educational website Sunday, November 10, 2013, at 2 pm at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History.

Created over three years with the collaborative effort of the museum, Eastern Michigan University’s School of Education, Michigan-based scholars, and with backing from the U.S. Department of Education, The Struggle Against Slavery website (www.UGRRonline.com) contains historical scholarship on the 19th century struggle for civil rights, using the Underground Railroad as a case study. It situates the American abolitionist movement as an important precursor to later and continuing struggles for civil rights. Designed for all ages, the website includes encyclopedic entries, interactive maps, and video interviews of descendants of abolitionists and freedom seekers, with a focus on activities in Michigan and the Midwest. In addition to numerous iconic photos and artworks, many visual elements included in the project have rarely been seen.

The website’s educational resources include K-12 lesson plans, classroom-ready PowerPoint presentations, and downloadable instructional materials, including a complete online course consisting of 12 lectures by Dr. Roy Finkenbine, Professor of History at the University of Detroit-Mercy. Voices of the Civil War, The Wright Museum’s monthly retrospective video series on African American perspectives during the great conflict, is also integrated into the site.

The November 10 launch event is free and open to the public, and will include a screening of select segments of the PBS film The Abolitionists as well as the lecture by Mr. Jones, noted scholar and expert on the Underground Railroad who has appeared on C-SPAN, NPR, and other national media outlets.

The Struggle Against Slavery is made possible by the United States Department of Education. Created Equal: America’s Civil Rights Struggle is made possible through a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities as part of its Bridging Cultures initiative, in partnership with the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History.

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Today in Black History, 11/7/2013

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• November 7, 1775 Lord Dunmore, the Royal Governor of Virginia, issued a proclamation promising freedom to all enslaved Black men who deserted and fought for the British. Thousands of Black people escaped to the British, serving as orderlies, laborers, scouts and guides. Despite Dunmore’s promise, the majority were not given their freedom. In January, 1776, George Washington lifted the ban on Black men enlisting in the Continental Army and at least 5,000 Black soldiers fought for the country in the American War of Independence.

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Today in Black History, 11/6/2013

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• November 6, 1746 Absalom Jones, abolitionist and clergyman, was born enslaved in Milford, Delaware. By 1785, Jones had bought his and his family’s freedom. Together with Richard Allen, Jones was one of the first African Americans licensed to preach by the Methodist Church. In 1787, they founded the Free African Society, conceived as a non-denominational mutual aid society to help newly freed enslaved people in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. In 1792, Jones founded the African Church of Philadelphia which opened its doors July 17, 1794 as the African Episcopal Church of St. Thomas, the first Black church in Philadelphia. Jones was ordained as the first African American priest in the Episcopal Church in 1804. Jones died February 13, 1818. He is listed on the Episcopal calendar of saints and blessed under the date of his decease.

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Today in Black History, 11/5/2013

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• November 5, 1889 Willis Richardson, playwright, was born in Wilmington, North Carolina but raised in Washington, D. C. In 1921, Richardson staged his first play, “The Deacon’s Awakening”. In 1923, he became the first African American playwright to have a non-musical production on Broadway with “The Chip Woman’s Fortune”. This was followed by “Mortgaged” (1923), “The Broken Banjo” (1925), and “Bootblack Lover” (1926). The last two plays were awarded the Amy Spingarn Prize for Art and Literature. Richardson died November 7, 1977. He was posthumously awarded the Audience Development Committee (AUDELCO) prize for his contribution to American theater.

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Today in Black History, 11/4/2013

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on Monday, 04 November 2013
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• November 4, 1865 Wendell Phillips Dabney, newspaper editor and author, was born in Richmond, Virginia. In his senior year of high school, Dabney led a protest of the separation of Black and White students for graduation. The successful protest resulted in the first integrated graduation at the school. Dabney spent 1883 at Oberlin College where he was first violinist at the Oberlin Opera House and a member of the Cademian Literary Club. From 1884 to 1890, Dabney taught at a Virginia elementary school. In 1894, he moved to Cincinnati, Ohio and in 1895 became Cincinnati’s first African American license clerk. From 1898 to 1923, he served as assistant, and then head paymaster in the Cincinnati Department of Treasury. In 1907, Dabney founded The Union newspaper whose motto was “For no people can become great without being united, for in union there is strength”. Dabney edited the paper from its founding until his death June 5, 1952. The paper was influential in shaping the political and social opinions of Cincinnati’s African American citizens. Dabney also served as the first president of the Cincinnati NAACP chapter when it was established in 1915. He compiled and published “Cincinnati’s Colored Citizens” in 1926 and wrote “Maggie L. Walker: The Woman and Her Work” in 1927. In 1950, the National Convention of Negro Publishers honored Dabney as a pioneer and leader in African American journalism.

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Today in Black History, 11/3/2013

Posted by The Wright Museum
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on Sunday, 03 November 2013
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• November 3, 1639 Saint Martin de Porres, Dominican lay brother, died. de Porres was born December 9, 1579 in Lima, Peru. At the age of 15, he was admitted into the Dominican Convent of the Rosary as a servant boy. His piety and miraculous cures led his superiors to drop the racial limits on admission to the Order and he was made a full Dominican brother. At the age of 24, de Porres was given the habit of a coadjutor brother and was assigned to the infirmary where many miracles were attributed to him. Although he never left Lima, many people around the world attributed their salvation to him. By the time of his death, he was known as a saint throughout the region. Martin de Porres was beatified in 1837 and canonized May 6, 1962. Many buildings around the world are named in his honor, including Saint Martin de Porres High School in Detroit, Michigan. His biography, “St. Martin de Porres: Apostle of Charity,” was published in 1963.

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